B’stilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie)

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B’stilla is one of the few dishes that Moroccans can claim for their own. Unlike couscous or tajine which stretches across the Maghreb, b’stilla is firmly routed in Morocco.
Today, the most common type of b’stilla served is chicken but traditionally it was made with a pigeon. Only recently has this dish become something that an average Moroccan person might eat – previously it was reserved only for royalty or the wealthy.

What is a B’Stilla?

B’stilla, pronounced pas-tee-ya, is a classic Moroccan dish, traditionally made with pigeon or squab, although many European and American cooks use chicken instead.
It is the first course served at a diffa (which means “reception” and describes a celebratory meal). One of the seasonings in the filling is ras el-hanout, possibly the most complex of all Islamic spice mixtures and usually used with the game or in sweet-savory tagines. Ras el-hanout means the “head of the shop,” signaling how precious the spice blend is, both because of its price and the fact that the blend is made with up to 30 different spices.

Origin Of B’stilla

There are a few different stories about where b’stilla was created but the most popular story is that it was developed in the kitchens of Moorish Spain.
The story goes that the sultan had seen what was being served in French courts and wanted a dish that would rival the French court and his cooks developed this. Is the story true? Maybe yes, maybe no!
What we do know is that the dish came back to Morocco and the royal courts where it eventually trickled out to the rest of the population. What makes this dish so special? It’s a unique mix of sweet and savory in one package.

How To Make B’stilla

To make B’stilla, start by frying onion and several finely chopped cloves of garlic in vegetable oil. As the onions start to soften, add one-quarter cup each minced parsley and cilantro, one teaspoon each of turmeric and ginger, and several threads of saffron.
Add two pounds (about one kilogram) of boneless, skinless chicken, or three pounds (one and a half kilograms) of bone-in chicken. Cover the mixture in three cups of chicken stock, bring it to a boil, and then simmer for twenty minutes with the lid on.
When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a separate dish to cool, and stir four beaten eggs into the stock, simmering the stock so that it reduces while shredding the chicken. After the volume of the stock has reduced by around one-half, add the shredded chicken back in, and simmer until dry. Remove the mixture from the heat and set it aside.


Next, toast one-half cup of almonds, either in oil or in a dry baking pan. Grind the almonds lightly so that they become chunky, and mix two teaspoons of cinnamon in, along with one tablespoon of sugar. Add more sugar if you want a slightly sweeter B’stilla.

With the phyllo dough out thawing on the counter, melt one-half cup of butter in a heavy saucepan. Use the butter to oil a large pie dish, and lay a sheet of phyllo dough into the dish. Brush the dough with butter after it goes into the pan, and make sure to brush the overhanging dough as well before adding another sheet and doing the same. After six to seven sheets are layered, pour the chicken mixture in, spread it so that it is even, and sprinkle the sugared almonds on top.

Next, fold the overhanging dough over, and spread several more sheets on top, buttering between. After six or seven sheets have been layered on top, brush the top with eggs for a glossy finish, and sprinkle cinnamon and powdered sugar on as well, if desired. Bake in a 400 degree Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) oven for around 30 minutes, until the B’stilla, is golden brown. Allow the chicken pie to cool before serving, typically directly out of the pie pan.

This is such a quick and easy dessert to make, I hope you enjoy this unique Moroccan Chicken Pie!

B’stilla (Moroccan Chicken Pie)

A sweet chicken pie with a subtle difference - found on my journeys in the Middle East and North Africa. Makes a perfect buffet dish. Make sure bouillon is strongly flavored.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings 6


  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 (17.5 ounces) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  • Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  • Place chicken breasts in a small saucepan and cover with bouillon and water. Poach over medium-low heat, just below the boiling point. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until no longer pink in the center. Dice chicken.
  • Reserve bouillon.
  • In a small bowl, whisk eggs with 1/2 cup reserved bouillon and chopped parsley. In a separate bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar.
  • Roll out one sheet of pastry into a 12-inch square. Cut other sheets of pastry in half and roll out into two 8-inch squares. Fit 12-inch square of pastry into a 9-inch pie pan.
  • Spread half of the diced chicken evenly across the bottom of the pastry.
  • Pour half of the egg mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture, then with salt and pepper. Cover with one 8-inch square of pastry.
  • Cover pastry square with remaining chicken, egg mixture, and cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Cover with a remaining pastry square. Fold edges of bottom pastry over the top of the pie.
  • Brush with melted butter or margarine. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Serve lukewarm or cold.
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